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Single-Sex Schools Rule

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The great debate continues on single sex classrooms. Is this concept right for you?

boys in a classroom

If your son was failing in school or misbehaving in class, would you place him in an all-boys classroom?

That's the solution to sagging test scores and behavioral problems at New York City's Public School 140.

But the idea of separating boys and girls isn't radical -- since 2004, 445 classrooms and 95 schools nationwide have caught on to the idea, according to the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education.

Here's the argument: When free from gender stereotyping, girls have the confidence to pursue studies and careers in math, science, and technology. And because boys aren't distracted to impress their female classmates, they collaborate together and get more involved in art, music, and drama (traditional female subjects).

But according to the National Organization for Women, gender stereotypes are magnified when boys and girls are segregated. For example, a boy who has never been beaten by a girl on a math test may develop major problems with female authority figures.

However, some teachers report a more positive learning experience in single-sex classrooms. For example, at Public School 140, male teachers consider their male students "23 sort of sons" and rely on "male bonding" like Marvel Comics and chess to illustrate their points - a teaching tool not likely used in a co-ed classroom. And according to one teacher, he can "be a little more stern" with his students now. "If I get in the face of a girl, she would just cry," he says. "The boys respond to it, they know it's part of being a young man."

And the benefits have been proven in all-girls classrooms, too: In 2005, an independent study by the Goodman Research Group, commissioned by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, found more than 80% of the 4,200 girls' school graduates were better prepared than their coed school peers to succeed in college.

That said, research remains divided. At some schools there is no evidence of improvement when boys and girls are split up. At the Bronx's Eagle School, students in the co-ed fifth grade did better on last year's state tests in math and English than kids in the single-sex rooms. And this year's co-ed class had the highest percentage of students passing the state social studies exam.

What do you think - would you send your child to a single-sex school?

next: My Toddler Is Making Me Fat
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
leelee March 16, 2009, 11:16 AM

I understand the single-sex class idea, and as an educator of Middle School children, I like it. I have had too many female students not do well because they “don’t want to look too smart in front of…” and not have hime notice her. This way they can focus on studies on not the opposite sex. They would still “hang out” in between classes, lunch, and after school. We can’t forget to offer coed classes after school though!

mamaof2 March 16, 2009, 1:53 PM

i personally think theres too much competetion in school period. what you wear, what you look like, etc. but i think separating is good for some classes, maybe gym class. throwing a bunch pre-teen and teen girls in the same class is still going to have them each worried over something (hair, clothes, popularity)…i guess having the boys in another room is one less thing for them to think about though!

Tara March 16, 2009, 3:58 PM

I love the idea of gender-segregated schools for middle school and up. I teach at a small Catholic school and I see the difference in our 8th grade class when the 2 boys are absent and its just the girls or in our 7th grade class and the 3 girls are out and it’s just the boys. Suddenly guards are let down and the kids feel more comfortable and I can see that real learning is taking place. I love the idea and would love to teach at a single sex school.

Rachel March 17, 2009, 2:57 AM

If I wanted my child to be in an all boys school, I would send him there. But there’s a fat chance in he!! that I will do that. Children need to learn to deal with the opposite sex. How are they supposed to do that if we isolate them from each other? Lots of people grew up in co-ed classrooms and I’m pretty sure they’re okay. This is just stupid to me.

Amanda Hugenkizz March 20, 2009, 9:04 AM

I remember at school, which was single sex. We’d circle jerk around a cookie. First one to pop had to eat it after the last one popped.

Ajfpiavx June 22, 2009, 11:16 PM

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